Japanese newspaper Nikkei Shimbun is reporting that the JPO will begin a study in 2009 to "drastically revise" Japanese patent law. The main points of study include:
- Revising the definition of "invention" that is protected subject matter
- Making a system for promoting innovation by terminating the "right to seek an injunction"
- Revising "employee invention provisions"
- Studying ways to resolve disputes promptly and effectively
- Speeding up examination and responding to applicants' needs
- Making the text and provisions easy to understand
The study is scheduled to begin at the end of January, and is expected to last one year. A "Commissioner's Private Study Group" will be formed and will be made up of members from industry, academia, and lawyers. Conclusions from the study will be forwarded to the Industrial Structure Committee for further consideration. If necessary, changes to the law would be implemented in the ordinary session of the Diet in 2010-11.
From the Nikkei Shimbun article:
The current Patent Law went into effect in 1980, and defines the “things” that as inventions can be protected by patents. Although there are cases where things like business model patents have been considered to fall within “things” and thus protected, this revision will, once enacted, for the first time clearly establish that intangible property is protected subject matter.
A representative example of the kind of intangible assets that may become protected subject matter is software. Things like the computer algorithms needed in software architecture were not anticipated in the current Patent Law, and thus there is concern that their protection might not be totally certain.
Special thanks to Greg Aharonian who forwarded this information, and Edward Durney for providing the translation. A copy of the (translated) article can be viewed here.
-- On a somewhat related note, the JPO recently announced that the first patent under the "Super Accelerated Examination" issued. Time of pendency from the examination request? 17 days.